Listing Quality Optimization Tips for Walmart Marketplace

Allison Lee

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April 13, 2021

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It's becoming more obvious by the day that Walmart is a viable contender to Amazon, with reports like Retail Dive finding that the marketplace has more than doubled in sellers since mid-2019, and that Walmart has surpassed eBay as the second-largest retailer in the U.S. The challenge, however, is adapting to the new opportunity and creating high-quality listings that don’t rely on a one-size-fits-all approach. 

The first step is understanding the anatomy of a strong Walmart listing and knowing what missteps to avoid. The second is to carefully monitor the most impactful elements of your listing so that you always remain a step ahead of your competitors.   

What NOT to Do When Listing on Walmart Marketplace

There are some mistakes that sellers small and large all tend to make when selling on Walmart Marketplace for the first time. For starters, avoid these top three blunders.

1. Copy and Paste Your Amazon Listings

You may be tempted to copy and paste Amazon listings to save time and (in theory) replicate results. But doing so can cause several issues: you could be flagged for duplicate content (Walmart requires product titles and descriptions to be unique) and copy that ranks high on Amazon may not work as well on Walmart.

You’re dealing with a different taxonomy, requirements, algorithm and buyers when you sell on Walmart. While on Amazon you have the advantage of Prime and a mature ranking algorithm, on Walmart, you’ve got fast shipping tags, pro seller badges and a more rudimentary ranking system that’s evolving all the time. What works on Amazon may not yield the same results on Walmart. 

2. Skimping Out on Product Data

An oft-overlooked mistake is putting minimal effort into entering the right, complete product data on Walmart. For instance, you may have entered the basic requirements about your product (brand, size, material, etc.) but have failed to include advanced attributes (eco-friendly, verification-related details, etc.). By omitting these extra details, you could be hurting your chances of ranking for long-tail keywords or get excluded from filtered search results that are driven by the left-hand menu on any Walmart category page. 

3. Assuming Walmart's Algorithm Is Identical to Amazon's

It can be challenging to crack each marketplace’s algorithm, but it would be a big mistake to assume that they're all the same. Amazon's algorithm, for example, prioritizes Prime Status and often suggests products based on a buyer’s intent whereas Walmart’s algorithm is more reliant on exact keyword matches and judges a product’s relevance according to slightly different ruleset.

Beyond this, Walmart SEO is unique, requiring you to...

  1. Map your products to the right category and attributes to ensure they're going to display under the right searches
  2. Create a succinct product name that abides by Walmart's strict copy standards
  3. Provide at least four images to prove to Walmart's search engine that your product has enough information available to the visitor to initiate a transaction
  4. When using keywords on your product page, make sure they're being used naturally to not come off as spammy to search engines
  5. Offer the best landing price possible in line with Walmart’s 'great value’ focus 

Signs of a Low-Quality Walmart Listing(s)

If you’re not sure how to evaluate the health of your Walmart listings, keep an eye out for these key indicators. 

  • Sales are stagnant or nonexistent: Slow sales may not just signal a conversion issue, but also an impressions/visibility issue.
  • You're not eligible to use Walmart ads: To be eligible for Walmart Sponsored Products, your product must rank within the top 128 organic results of your product category. Therefore, if you’re not eligible for ads, then your product listing likely needs attention. 
  • Frequent listing errors: Frequent Walmart listing errors indicate a problem with outdated, improperly formatted or missing data. If you run into them regularly, then you likely need to revisit your approach to listing; the more errors your listing has, the more likely it’ll be suppressed (if it’s not already), costing you potential sales.  
  • Other items in your category are getting lots of traffic while yours isn’t. If you notice that your competitor’s items are selling like hotcakes, consider the differences between your listings. Are theirs better aligned with Walmart's guidelines? Does it have to do with price? Shipping speed? Whatever the case, note the differences and what you should focus on improving to make your product more competitive.

The 3 Most Important Factors of a Quality Listing, According to Walmart

A high-quality is at the root of every successful sale. Aside from affecting your visibility, your listing quality has the power to make or break a customer’s experience with your brand. Consider how the more accurate their impression is of your product, the happier they’ll be when they receive it—which for you means less returns and better product reviews. 

In Walmart’s eyes, there are three main factors that go into your listing quality score. Dubbed the ‘Optimization Triangle,’ here are the three factors to keep in mind.

1. Content 

Needless to say that content is the meat and potatoes of your listing. But your content extends far beyond your images and title, though both are important. There are several other elements that you can’t forget, as noted below. 

  • Category:  This consists of choosing the right category and subcategory for each of your product listings and guaranteeing that your product shows up in the right places, both organically and in ads. (Note that when you leverage Walmart’s Sponsored Products, your items must appear within the first 128 organic search results of your desired category in order to even qualify for paid placements.) The better you can pinpoint exactly where your product belongs, the better suited it will be to get to the right shoppers on Walmart. But, don’t be surprised if this is not as straightforward as you’d assume—follow Walmart’s guidelines for picking the right categories in addition to their advice on commonly confused categories (e.g., baby clothing goes in the Clothing category, not Baby). Or, if you’re really stumped, speak with your multichannel software provider for help. 
  • Attributes: When you have a thorough understanding of your category and subcategory, it is significantly easier to determine which attributes to provide about your item outside of the basic, required product details. Check out the left-hand filters on a Walmart results page to learn what attributes buyers often look for or perform keyword research to understand which advanced attributes to include. 
  • Product Title: Titles are essential to your listing's visibility, but over-stuffing then with keywords is more harmful than good. Keep your titles short and to the point, following the recommended 50-70 characters and keeping it unique from other listings (yes, that includes the corresponding listing that you have on Amazon). Follow other title description best practices, such as avoiding promotional phrases like 'best-selling’ or information about you or your company. Here’s Walmart's formula for a successful title: Brand + Product Line (if applicable) + Size/Power (if applicable) + Defining Quality + Item Name + Pack Count
  • Descriptions: The more detailed your descriptions, the more successful they are going to be. The general rule of thumb is to include 3-10 key features on your listing and a minimum of 150 words in paragraph form. This number fluctuates depending on your product's category, but if you stick to being as detailed as possible, you shouldn't run into any problems. Remember to address frequently asked questions here and to highlight benefits, not simply features.
  • Images: When you follow Walmart's image resolution requirements, you can ensure that your images are not only crisp, but also support zoom-in capability. You’ll additionally want to provide multiple images and swatches per product variant to ensure that your buyers can easily picture themselves using your product, plus have an accurate understanding of its size and capabilities.
  • Rich Media: As technology advances, so do product listings. Walmart accepts enhanced content, which you can unlock through one its approved content solution providers. Enhanced content can include 360-degree images, product videos and other advanced features that better showcase what you have to offer. 

2. Offer 

Pricing and fulfillment fall under this umbrella. As with any other marketplace, Walmart values timely shipping and competitive pricing. The latter is a hallmark of its global brand, so you’ll want to make it a priority when managing your multichannel catalog. 

  • Price: The minimum requirement is to practice price parity and ensure that none of your products can be bought at a significantly less price elsewhere on the internet, either from you or a competitor. If Walmart finds that your landing price (item price, plus shipping and handling) isn’t what they deem competitive, they won’t hesitate to unpublish it. Keep in mind that you can still experiment with pricing by leveraging things like kits and bundles or limited-time promotions.
  • Shipping Speed: If you can get your products to your customers within two days or faster, you're likely going to gain a lot more traction. Walmart promotes free and fast shipping with prominent tags. A few things to keep in mind: You’ll need to participate in Walmart ThreeDay or TwoDay to take advantage of fast shipping tags. You’ll additionally want to use shipping templates to keep everyone involved in the fulfillment process informed and to manage customer expectations. Finally, do not rely on Amazon MCF—it’s prohibited on Walmart—and instead work with a 3PL or WFS if you need help.
  • Shipping Options: Your customers like options so it never hurts to offer expedited delivery (Next Day, TwoDay or ThreeDay) in addition to stand, free value and freight shipping. View Walmart’s rundown of shipping methods and lag times.
  • In-Stock Rate and Inventory: Keeping your items updated and in stock at all times is essential for ranking. Avoid common inventory management mistakes, like overselling and lacking a system to keep all of your inventory synced between your sales channels. 

3. Performance 

Last but not least, your seller performance is a critical component of your listing quality. Your performance is determined by the following:  

  • Order Defect Rate (ODR): This consists of cancellations, shipping defects, customer complaints and returns over a 90-day period. According to Walmart, top sellers maintain an ODR below 2%. 
  • Policy Adherence: Like with any marketplace relationship, you must follow specified standards to stay in good standing with Walmart. Abide by Walmart’s Trust and Safety Performance standards, which check for regulatory compliance and offensive product and intellectual property violations. You must also follow marketplace policies on returns, disputes, customer care, referral fees and more.
  • Customer Feedback: The more five-star reviews you receive, the greater the trust you build with your customers and Walmart. Walmart suggests going through its Spark Reviewer Program or third-party software like BazaarVoice to collect more ratings. 

In Summary, the Devil Is in the Details 

Monitoring and improving the quality of your Walmart listings is a practiced art. Today, it’s not enough to slap your product up on the marketplace without much concern or the user experience from start to finish. Each detail is important and you’ll want to make sure than under the hood of your listing, your product data and operations are up to snuff. 

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